Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses body piercings: the good, the bad and the ugly

Piercings are a common accessory for both teens and adults. Earlobe piercings often heal without problems, but body piercings are a different story. These piercings are more risky and can result in infections even if they are done properly. Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains the pitfalls of body piercing.

Piercings in areas with significant bacteria can become infected, explains Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

Infection is a common concern for new and even older piercings. Pierced skin leaves an open wound that is vulnerable to contamination. The upper areas of the ears and the nose, both common spots for piercings, are made up of cartilage. These areas are often harder to clean, take longer to heal and are more likely to become infected at any time after a piercing. Additionally, clothing can trap dirt and other activities can lead to infections. Serious infections often require the piercing to be removed and can even lead to loss of an ear or nasal deformity if severe. Once removed, the piercing may cause scarring.

If you do decide to get a piercing, make sure the person doing the piercing is an experienced professional, Dr. Joel Schlessinger says.

To minimize the risk of infection and other complications, always see a reputable and trained professional for piercings. The challenge with this is that there aren’t any serious regulations on body piercing and you could have one done in a mall or by a person with zero experience or talent. The area should be cleaned with alcohol very carefully before the piercing is done. The person who is doing the piercing should be wearing gloves and professionally trained on equipment and procedures. ┬áSadly, there is no way to assure this other than by word of mouth.

Try to make sure the environment and equipment have been sterilized. Without sterilization, there is a risk of spreading diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV. Blood infections, or sepsis, can also occur if the person doesn’t use a sterile technique. If you have doubts about the cleanliness of the environment, leave immediately.

Problems with the type of jewelry can also be an issue, specifically if you have metal allergies. Make sure the jewelry used is hypoallergenic and the item is designed to be used with your specific piercing. Don’t remove the jewelry while the area is healing as this can cause more irritation.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares how important it is to care for your skin if you do decide to get a new piercing.

If you do decide to get a piercing (whichever area you choose), proper hygiene is essential to avoid infection and other complications. Gently clean the skin around the piercing twice a day using a cotton ball or pad dipped in rubbing alcohol to disinfect the area and prevent scabbing. If the piercing site becomes very tender or red, it’s important to see a board-certified dermatologist as these could be signs of an infection.

Do you have a question for Dr. Joel Schlessinger? Share with us in the comments.

Posted Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 at 4:13 pm
Filed Under Category: Dermatology, Skin Care
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